Kara Wilson official website
Kara Wilson in Deco Diva


Kara Wilson   Actress * Writer * Artist
Born Glasgow, Scotland : Educated The Park School, Glasgow M.A.Hons.(1st) in Psychology from Glasgow University




Kara WIlson Kara acted in numerous productions with Glasgow University Dramatic Society, playing leading roles in Strindberg's The Stronger, Lysistrata, The Crucible, and Love's Labour's Lost. As President of the Society, she virtually ran a small theatre company, taking productions to the Edinburgh Festival and Student Drama Festivals. At one of these she was discovered by a theatrical agent and launched into a professional career. She appeared as Viola in Twelfth Night at the Citizens Theatre shortly thereafter. More recently she has appeared in Present Laughter (Monica), Otherwise Engaged (Beth), Chapter Two (Jenny) at the Theatre Royal in Windsor and The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Elaine) on national tour.

Feature films include ‘Jane Eyre’ starring George C. Scott, ‘Reuben, Reuben’ and ‘Heavenly Pursuits’. Innumerable television appearances range from presenting children's shows - ‘Roundup’ for STV and ‘Action’ for ATV - to classic serialisations such as ‘Children of The New Forest’ and ‘Dombey and Son’; single plays including ‘Once In Every Lifetime’ in which she starred opposite her husband Tom Conti and which brought them to London in 1968; and many series including 39 episodes of ‘Adam Smith’, Andrea Newman's ‘Mackenzie’ and ‘Grange Hill’. She appeared with her husband in a major documentary on Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Channel Four.

In 1993 she wrote and performed with Gay Hamilton ‘The Story of Robert Burns’, a programme of songs, verse and anecdotes about the Scottish poet. In 1994 she wrote and performed ‘The Young Pretender’, the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and took this production to the Borders Festival in Scotland in October 1995 with her daughter, Nina Conti. In August 1996 Kara presented ‘Rab and Chairlie’ at The Edinburgh Festival, again with Gay Hamilton.

Kara Wilson in Glasgow girl
Kara Wilson in ‘Glasgow Girl’
In the 1997 Festival Fringe, she presented ‘Glasgow Girl’, her one-woman show about Bessie MacNicol, the Glasgow painter, in which she painted a portrait nightly at the Leith Gallery while she told Bessie’s story. After a successful run at the Festival, she took the show to Billcliffe Fine Art Gallery, Glasgow Art Gallery, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Glasgow Art Club, followed by three performances in New York in January at Phillips Auction House.

She is currently presenting her 1998 Edinburgh Festival show, ‘Deco Diva’, celebrating the life and painting of the Art Deco portraitist, Tamara De Lempicka. This show has been performed at the Mill Studio, Guildford, Bath Festival at Philips Auction House, Bath Royal Crescent Hotel, Hampstead and Highgate Festival, Aberdeen Art Gallery, Glasgow Art Club, and more recently The Royal Academy, the Scottish Royal Academy, Jermyn St Theatre and the Jewish Cultural Centre in Krakow, Poland. In April 2005 she took ‘Deco Diva’ to New York and enjoyed a three week run off Broadway at the new 59E59 Theater complex.

Kara has just completed the third in her series of one woman plays on painters. She plans to stage ‘BLOOMSBURY BELL’, the story of Vanessa Bell and her relationship with her sister Virginia Woolf, early in 2007.

Kara sang with fellow actress Liz Payne and long-time singing partner Gay Hamilton in the group called ‘She Loves’ performing programmes of songs from musicals interspersed with poetry, wit and wisdom, devised by Musical Director Lydia Melleck. Currently Kara is presenting a solo show with Lydia entitled “Shoot For The Moon”, following on from the success of her first solo cabaret show “On Being A Woman”.

Kara records talking books for BBC Audio Books, works by Mazo De La Roche, Jessica Stirling, Emma Blair and Kate Atkinson.

Kara Wilson’s first script ‘High Time’, the story of a woman’s search for her childhood sweetheart, earned her a place on a New Writers Workshop at BBC, Glasgow in the early ‘80s.

In 1987, following a collaboration on a documentary on Charles Rennie Mackintosh, she was commissioned by STV to write ‘Neill’, a film based on a weekend in the life of Scotsman A.S.Neill, founder of Summerhill School. When STV Films ceased production shortly thereafter the rights reverted to the author. With Michael Relph as producer, the project then had a start date at the BBC under Mark Shivas but the US funding was not secured in time and the slot was lost.

The following year STV commissioned a documentary script on Robert Burns. ‘An Honest Narrative’ was written in four parts, using the four seasons to structure the story of the ploughman poet.

Her third film script, ‘Postman’s Knock’, a romantic comedy and sexual romp in the world of young politicians and postmen, was taken up for a while by Graham Benson of Blue Heaven but has not yet been placed.

During the early ‘90s she turned to writing theatrical pieces, mixing narrative, poetry and song. ‘The Story of Robert Burns’, ‘The Young Pretender’ and ‘Rab and Chairlie’ were all performed many times in Scotland and England by Kara and fellow actress Gay Hamilton.

Kara Wilson as Bessie MacNicol
Kara Wilson as ‘Bessie MacNicol’
In 1997 she wrote ‘Glasgow Girl’, a one-woman show on the life of Bessie MacNicol, a Scottish painter at the turn of the century. She tailor made this project for herself in order to utilise her skills as a painter, actress and singer. She told the story of Bessie’s life while painting a portrait nightly, interspersing the action with songs of the period. An added plus was the selling of the painting to the audience at the end of the performance.

She repeated this successful format the following year with ‘Deco Diva’ on the life of the Polish artist, Tamara de Lempicka. Such has been its success that numerous productions in this country have led to an invitation to a season in New York in April 2005. She has published the text in Spring 2005.

Kara has just completed the third in her series of one woman plays on painters. She plans to stage ‘BLOOMSBURY BELL’, the story of Vanessa Bell and her relationship with her sister Virginia Woolf, early in 2007.

In 2001, after completing the Robert McKee ‘Story’ course where she was suitably inspired, she wrote ‘When Good Men’, a thriller about an American TV journalist. In the story Osama Bin Laden blows up New York and the hero sets out to meet and assassinate him. This script was handed to Eric Felner of Working Title four days before the Twin Towers were attacked on September 11th. The rest is history.

Encouraged by Working Title to write a romantic comedy instead, Kara was commissioned to write ‘In Too Deep’ . She worked on it with Deborah Hayward at Working Title in 2002. The following year the project was taken over by Jonathan Cavendish and Dixie Linder at Little Bird.

Kara has adapted her favourite thriller for the stage, shortly to go into production.

Kara Wilson and Tom Conti When pregnant with her daughter Nina in 1972, Kara took up painting and studied at Camden Arts Centre where she remained off and on for ten years. Her teachers there included Jack Yates, Margaret Fairnington, Elizabeth Passini, David Carr, Sargy Mann and Noel Dyrenforth. Portraiture was her passion.

In recent years she has had several exhibitions of her paintings - two have been group exhibitions of work by actors, one at The Ideal Homes Exhibition and one at the Netherbow at the Edinburgh Festival. In 1992 she exhibited with other artists at the Hooper Gallery, St. Johns Wood and in 1993 at the Wabe Gallery, Hampstead in an exhibition entitled 'Double Vision'. This latter was two artists' viewpoint of the same models and was the result of a year of working closely with her friend, Vera Lissauer. In December 1993 she exhibited with Jack Yates at the Exhibition Hall, Swiss Cottage Library in the first ‘Jack Yates and Friends’ show. This was followed in Spring 1994 with a further exhibition ‘Jack Yates and Friends II’ at the Royal Free, Hampstead. In 1996 she exhibited with five friends at The Wabe Gallery in a mixed show, ‘Group of Six,’96’.

Sydney Beach Series
’Sydney Beach Series’ oil painting
In 1995 Kara had a major exhibition of her work at the Leith Gallery in the Edinburgh Festival, during which time she painted portraits daily in the gallery. Her association with the Leith Gallery started a new venture - performance art of a new kind. For the 1997 Festival Fringe, she wrote and performed ‘Glasgow Girl’, a one-woman show about Bessie MacNicol, the Glasgow painter, in which she painted a portrait nightly at the Leith Gallery while she told Bessie’s story, thus combining her painting with her acting and singing. She followed this with her 1998 show, ‘Deco Diva’, celebrating the life and painting of the Art Deco portraitist, Tamara De Lempicka.

A visit to Sydney in March 1999 was the inspiration for a ‘Sydney Beach Series’ of oil paintings which were exhibited in August 1999 at The Wabe Gallery. In 2002 a stay in Los Angeles inspired a sell-out exhibition of Santa Monica watercolours .

Kara’s paintings of Dame Edna Everage in Art Deco style are now decorating the set of Barry Humphries’s new Saturday night chat show on ITV.

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